Photo by Abigail Keenan

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

Eleanor Roosevelt

The year 2013 was very difficult for me. I was in year five of my business, and the industry I was working in had changed drastically. Revenue and profitability were in a downward spiral yet I was being nominated for two separate and very prestigious leadership awards, one of which I was awarded. I felt like a fraud and cringed every time someone congratulated me or spoke of how successful I was. In my mind, I was a failure. I spent some time talking to one of my very close friends about all of this and how I felt. For my birthday that year, she bought me Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and wrote this beautiful note on the inside cover:

“I was thinking of our talk the other day and remembered some words that I had read in this book. I have marked the pages for you. I just want you to know that so many times in my life and especially over the last few years in my current role as a “business expert”, I find that I question, am I really an expert? Business associates come to me all day long asking for my opinions and suggestions and I think, really me, I’m the expert? Part of me feeling like a fraud, like someone will find out that I am not an expert, that the jig will be up! When I read this book, I had my own little ah ha moment and knew that I was not alone. I thought it may be helpful for you and that you would really love this book. Just so you know, you are an amazing, smart, talented, innovative woman. That is no fraud! You are as real and genuine as a person can possibly be, and there are so many reasons that people look up to you. You may make mistakes, but you learn from them. You may have tough times, but they make you stronger and wiser and that is why we look up to you my friend. “

Her kind words made me cry, not a sad cry – the “feel-good” kind of cry. Even to this day, when I read them, I still get choked up. She was right. The book really did get me out of my “fraud” slump. It helped me to see that I am not alone, that “impostor syndrome” is a real thing that is experienced by so many and is driven largely by the words we tell ourselves or choose to speak aloud. 

How we speak to and about ourselves dictates who we become. Self-limiting beliefs are driving forces which can lead us down this path of self-doubt. This can even occur despite proven records of accomplishment and past successes. Whether or not we have done work on quashing those beliefs, they can and do come back from time to time. When they do, we must recognize them for what they are—pure nonsense. We must take time to reflect on why they are showing up in our lives at the time they are, acknowledge the feelings they are provoking and allow ourselves to release these beliefs, as they serve no purpose. Why hold on to something that is bringing you down? It’s like going swimming in the ocean with a brick. How much more dif­ficult is it to stay afloat with that brick in your hands? As soon as you release it, everything becomes lighter and you can float almost effortlessly. The longer it has been weighing you down, the lighter you feel when you finally let it go. The same goes for these beliefs we hold on to that provoke theses feelings of self-doubt which lead us down the impostor syndrome road. 

Quashing Impostor Syndrome – Quick Tip

Before presenting in front of a group of people or preparing for an important meeting, interview or conversation, take 3 to 5 minutes to clear your surroundings, close your eyes, stand in super hero pose, take a few deep breaths and recite a mantra to boost your confidence.  It could go something like this:  “I am knowledgeable, I am prepared, I am deserving and I got this!”  You will be amazed at how well this one little exercise works to give you the assurance you need to quash that nasty impostor mindset!

If this resonates with you, be sure to pick up a copy of my book YOUR EXTRAORDINARY SELF for more tips on how to overcome impostor syndrome and live an extraordinary life.  Always remember #AnythingsPossible